July 16, 2005

Mama PR, Don't Let Your Good Bloggers Get Away.

Especially right now.

It's an odd thing. Besides my finger injury, which is now better thanks to all the funnies and encouragement you left me in comments, I'm sick. I know the routine by now, after all of these years. I get worked up over something incredibly important that's being discussed online, I try to make a difference, I realize I can't, and then I get a sinus infection.

Works like clockwork.

Does this mean that blogging makes me sick? Well, not blogging per se, but the twisting of blogspace by powerful non-participators who have not a clue what it means to be here--that makes me sick. The command-and-control oriented who don't know what it means to talk as people who happen to work in companies large and small, or for themselves, in the U.S., and globally, but as people first. Blog posers who use out terms like 'dialogue' and 'conversation' but don't understand what having one feels like. These folks make me spend my co-pay, and that gets me cranky.

The first step for the blogging clueless: Admit your are powerless.

Would it be so difficult, for example, for a company like Ketchum to admit that they've missed the blog boat but are correcting that by, say, encouraging their employees to blog, listening to what bloggers within the organization already know--striking up conversations (not defense arguments) with people outside the organization? To understand that the "PR Blogosphere" is not the some place out in the ether separate from the rest of the blogworld? To cop to the fact that it isn't just PR bloggers who think they've behaved stupidly?

To admit they have a lot to learn from others with commitment and caring and years of living in the blogosphere? And that they're ready to engage that expertise?

That some of these experts are the very ones they have systematically ignored within their own organization for years on this very topic?

To understand that blogging is about lowering yourself to the level of your market--to take off your PR Holy See robes and listen up? Not by "putting a blog up," necessarily, but by at least being interested?

And to help their clients understand this?

I could go on and on and cover old ground, talk about the conversations I had with my colleagues on blogging at a time when eKetchum barely had its "e". Back when I had Chris Locke, Gonzo-Marketing fresh, ready to talk with them about how they could leap forward in a largely undefined space by participating.

That's when Anthony Parcero and I were blogging from the inside, and even after I left, and blogging became "bigger," Anthony remained a participating-if-semi-secret-ketchum voice encouraging Ketchum, and PR as a whole, into the blogosphere--for the most part, without any sign that Ketchum was listening to its own clued employee.

Compare Ketchum's recent defense messaging with what Anthony has written in the past--someone who, as a technologist, is not at the top of the hierarchical PR food chain. From what I can tell as an outside observer over the last few years, Anthony kept his ketchum connection mostly behind the scenes. The reasons for that are his to write about or not. But his voice did not go unnoticed. Maybe even now noticed by Ketchum, as they scramble to catch up.

Compare and see if any of Ketchum's recent press sounds vaguely familiar to what one of its past blogging employees has been saying for a long time:

Kind of similar to the blogsong Ketchum is singing now. Except, Anthony's not there singing it anymore. It'll be interesting to see if Ketchum can learn to carry a tune. Won't it?

The fact is this: Ketchum needs to catch up quick and stop using the positioning that "blogging isn't always the right strategy" to explain its lack of presence in this space over the last five years.

Ketchum may need to take a page from the Edelman playbook and engage the services of a real live blogger (like David is for Edelman), to play devil's advocate and put a hand up when it's time to call bullshit bullshit.

It's a lot less messy than letting the blogosphere play that role for you.

Now excuse me while I go expel the toxins from my system.